The new AP poll is out today and the Ducks are second behind Alabama, moving ahead of Ohio State after the Buckeyes struggled a little with Buffalo in their home opener. Ohio State remains second in the USA Today/Coaches Poll, which figures directly in the BCS formula.
Poll position doesn't absolutely matter until December, when it matters a lot. Teams in the number one and two slot get a $23.6 million payout for their conference, plus the opportunity to play for the Crystal Football. Until then it's chiefly bragging rights and bulletin board material for opponents, except it's much easier to finish in the Top Ten if you start the season there. For example, a loss to Clemson at Memorial Stadium only knocked #5 Georgia down to #11--they can still climb into contention, something a lot of 0-1 teams will have trouble doing.
Numbers game: Particularly because he plays on the West Coast, Marcus Mariota needs a certain threshold of statistical excellence to stay in the Heisman race. The Ducks need his A-game to run the gauntlet in the PAC-12 (Oregon Athletic Department image).